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1635: The Cannon Law by Eric Flint and Andrew Dennis

Published by Baen Books

Cover art by Tom Kidd

Reviewed by Leigh Kimmel

It's a strange world the Ring of Fire has created. Ripples of cultural change are racing outward from Grantville, the West Virginia mining town displaced into the midst of the Thirty Years' War. Some of them are the result of official missions, but far more of them are the result of individuals interacting with locals on an informal basis, talking about life and just showing by their words and actions that a new way of life is possible.

One of those people is Frank Stone, the son of a hippie chemist who accompanied the embassy to Venice. There he met a lovely young woman who was also the daughter of a man who dared to dream of a new way of life. A revolutionary who struck young Frank as a cross between John Brown and a Mafia Godfather.

Now Frank is married to his lovely Giovanna, and along with several of his new in-laws he has come to Rome to set up a local branch of the Committees of Correspondence. Nothing too obvious, since the last thing they want to do is risk attracting the attention of the Holy Office. Rather just a taverna where people can hang out and talk about ideas, including ideas that things might be different.

But not everyone is so enamored with the idea of change, even if Pope Urban VIII is. Among his cardinals is a reactionary of the first order, the Spanish Cardinal Borja, an agent of the Spanish Inquisition. And what he intends will come to no great surprise to those who know that nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition.

But it's no laughing matter, and Borja is perfectly willing to murder to gain what he desires. Yes, even murder his confreres of the red hat, or even the Holy Father himself.

Review posed December 14, 2008

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